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It Happened In Jersey...


Kingston, NY and Paterson, NJ are about 90 miles apart and in most respects could not be more different. However, in the spring of 1923, the two cities most definitely had something in common. Both were hotbeds of early pro basketball—Kingston in the Hudson Valley and Paterson in the industrial heartland of northern New Jersey. The Kingston Colonials basketball team, assembled and coach by Pop Morganweck, claimed the World Championship of basketball for 1923 by virtue of their 4–2 record against the New York Celtics that season.

Fans of the Paterson Legionaries, who could not make that claim, felt that their team was every bit as good as the Colonials. In fact, man-for-man, no team in all of basketball matched up with Kingston better. And it doesn’t take a hoops historian to analyze their rosters and come to the same conclusion.

That’s because the two teams were one in the same. Morganweck’s Colonials played a couple of games a week against teams in the New York State League and then switched into Paterson uniforms an additional two games in the Metropolitan Basketball League. Kingston won both halves of the NYSL split season and Paterson took the second-half title in the MBL. The Legionaries benefitted from the departure of the New York Celtics, who were undefeated in the first half and then left the league to play in Atlantic City.

Paterson beat Elizabeth (which held the second-best first-half record) for the Metropolitan championship on April 18th and Kingston took the NY State crown by virtue of their winning both halves of the 1922–23 season.

Morganweck, a New Jersey native who had been involved in pro basketball from its earliest beginnings, assembled an all-star squad, which was enjoyed by fans rooting for different teams more than two hours apart. Benny Borgmann (above right), the 24-year-old scoring sensation, brought crowds to their feet in two towns, along with a pair of six-footers, Harry Knoblauch and Charlie Powers. There were some differences in the rosters, and in truth those difference probably made Kingston a shade better. The Colonials got a nice year out of 20-year-old Carl Husta and veteran Babe Artus also suited up for Kingston. Gil Schwab, a tough, versatile 30-year-old, did his playing exclusively in Paterson.


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